DJ Spooky & Dave Lombardo

Drums of Death
(Thirsty Ear Recordings)
Enslain Magazine Volume 2, Issue 1
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This is a multilateral sonic attack, designed to integrate the finer aspects of heavy rock, hip-hop, and turntable-ism/electronic music into a proficient, genre-defying, and preconception-shattering expression. The primary players present on this record are Chuck D. from Public Enemy (there are 3 Public Enemy songs redone here), Vernon Reid (of Living Color fame), and Jack Dangers of Meat Beat Manifesto.

They say too many chefs spoil the broth, but that certainly is not the case here. Each musician stands out, but also assimilates into the unit as a whole. DJ Spooky provides spaced-out sampling and turntable scratches, that constitute the main rhythmic accents, along with a variety of drum styles from Dave Lombardo, that range from funky, up-tempo hip-hop, laid back trip-hop, fast paced metal beats, and even as contained on the tracks "Incipit Zarathustra," and "A Darker shade of Bleak" a barrage of triplet-feel drum fills. He solos in such a way that it blends with the music, and does not sound like just another drum clinic. Vernon Reid especially shines on "Quantum Cyborg Drum Machine," with a blistering solo similar in intensity and tonal modulations to the likes of John McLaughlin. Perhaps the element that best unites the project as a whole is Jack Dangers, who in addition to playing guitar, bass, ARP, and other synths/instruments, also engineered this album.

The only thing I cannot understand is the title, "Drums of Death." It doesn't seem to fit the vibe of the album in the least, but that is not a very significant flaw. In fact, it is the only thing that could be remotely considered a flaw here. Like any truly creative and imaginative project, it simply is what it is. It's greater than the sum of its parts. This deserves a fair listen by both rock and hip-hop fans alike. --